Hollywood is recovering.
Business is picking up after a sharp downturn in tourism, temporary store closings, stay-at-home orders, and a host of pandemic security restrictions, although some continue to struggle.
A report from The Hollywood Partnership for the second quarter of 2021 shows hotel occupancy up nearly 50% from the previous three months and pedestrian traffic up 164%.
The partnership manages the city’s real estate-based improvement district, which stretches along the world-famous Walk of Fame and spans Hollywood Boulevard from LaBrea Avenue Gateway in the west to Freeway 101 in the east.
“Not entirely out of the forest”
Hollywood venues suffered some of the heaviest hits during the worst part of the pandemic. But things have improved and venues like the Hollywood Bowl now have full schedules for 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News / SCNG)
“Although we’re not quite out of the woods yet, we can see the clearing through the trees,” said Kristopher Larson, President and CEO of the partnership. “The past three months have provided a litany of good news and other signs of excitement for the path ahead.”
Larson said pedestrian traffic is recovering quickly in Hollywood, attracting visitors not just from the area but from across the country.
“We’re tracking cell phone data on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” he said. “We use a tool called placer.ai that contracts with a number of different apps. It’s not perfect, but it shows that currently more than 60% of the visitors to the Walk of Fame come from outside the country. “
Underground passenger numbers, hotel demand increased
The report’s data for the second quarter show the highest volume of passengers on the metro since the pandemic began. Metro Red Line’s passenger numbers increased 16% on weekdays and 23% on Saturdays and Sundays compared to first-quarter passenger numbers estimates.
The report also shows that Hollywood hotel room demand rose 74% in the second quarter of 2021 and 233% year over year in the worst days of the pandemic.
Five new hotels are currently under construction in the Hollywood Entertainment District, a 12 block along Hollywood Boulevard known for its historical significance. These projects will add 830 additional hotel rooms.
The framework for the 134-room whiskey hotel north of Hollywood Boulevard is quickly taking shape, the partnership says, and a new Hyatt hotel on Cahuenga Boulevard recently secured a $ 27 million bridging loan to continue construction.
Other hotels in the pipeline include the Godfrey Hotel, the Thompson Hotel, and the Tommie Hotel.
Larson acknowledged that Hollywood is still making its way out of an unprecedented downturn.
“When the pandemic started last year, we saw the sharpest drop in pedestrian numbers ever,” he said. “It was a scary place. The people just didn’t come out. “
Venues took in some of the heaviest hits, Larson said, but venues like the Hollywood Bowl now have full schedules for 2021.
The partnership report bodes well for Hollywood’s recovery, although some companies are still struggling.
“We closed for about two and a half months last year and our sales were down 90%,” said Maria Cruz, general manager of Hollywood Souvenirs. “We’re picking up speed, but now that people are back to school we seem to be doing another dive.”
The store, which sells everything from t-shirts, trophies, and keychains to Marilyn Monroe cutouts, gift baskets, and customizable Walk of Fame stars, is also looking to add staff.
“We tried to call back most of our employees, but some just don’t come to work,” said Cruz. “With COVID, they are still afraid of getting too close to customers who are not wearing masks and others are unemployed and potentially making more money that way.”
Stout Burgers and Beers has fared better.
The brewery on North Cahuenga Boulevard continued to offer outdoor and take-away service during the pandemic and also has on-site parking that many Hollywood companies don’t, according to general manager Justin Davis.
“I think companies that couldn’t offer field service because they didn’t have space had more problems because a lot of customers just thought they were closed,” he said. “The Delta variant may have been responsible for a bit of a slowdown for us in the last week or two, but our business has largely remained stable.”